To Albert and Reina
Albert, your paintings on the wall engulfed my consciousness, so much so I felt I was swimming in the middle of a lava field; the shifting waters of time; adrift in the Vaʻanimonimo.
Jazz was playing on the sun coming through the windows to the garden. Birds were looking in & Manoa was waiting to make an entrance for us all.
Reina prepared hot coffee. The pineapple pie we made the night before glistened. We talked in the middle of the night, is Albert allowed pie? Does he like pineapple?
Reina’s mana & beauty brought all the folds together, as she poured coffee & got us all talking. Nervously at first, then we began to pull on the red threads of memory & bloodline.
As I sit here retelling, it is dreamlike & bright like the sun blazing painted on your window; when Manoa came & looked up at me beside the chair, I felt chuffed.
Faʻafeti Albert & Reina, your love emanated within the room, reminded Penny & I of the gift of our love, how it comes to settle in gardens & upon the surface of painted lines of memory,
elegant & always unfinished.
Posala & Gogsina V
We sit together supping on panikeke and tea. You tell me I will go bald ‘like your father,’ we laugh so you tell more superstitions swept from the kitchen floor. I close every draw, stamp on every knife, await a dark stranger at our door. We remind each other we should have gone back to Apia one last time it just makes us cry, so you talk of happier times, our hands spilling salt into Satan’s eyes. Ioe, we will laugh once more walk ʻUpolu’s rosary shore.
Wash hands under the kitchen hot water tap; prepare the ingredients: cut steak into thin slices and then pieces. Chop finely four garlic cloves, a thumb of ginger, and one brown onion. Marinate the steak in half the garlic and ginger with two or three tablespoons of dark soy. Soften vermicelli in boiled water and find kitchen scissors. Get a big pot and lid from under the sink cupboard. Turn the stove element on high. Add two tablespoons of cooking oil, the rest of the chopped garlic, ginger and when you smell the ginger and garlic add the onion. Throw in the steak pieces, stir until they are cooked. Add the softened vermicelli, half a cup of boiled water. Stir vigorously, adding soy until it is a rich dark brown. Lower the element and stir gently turning the ingredients over on themselves. Turn off the element, place the lid, reheat when the Aiga arrive.
My papalagi cousins love sapasui. Grandma taught me how to make it. We eat it on every birthday, Christmas, christening, and family reunion. Our recipe comes from the old Chinese man who worked for great grandpa Ulberg. Someone told me the Americans brought it to Apia when they were constructing Faleolo airfield, whatever, our recipe is older than that! We make it with steak or pork or chicken (with a strip of bacon). We never add frozen vegetables to it! Some say our supasui is the tastiest they ever had! No one makes it as good as my Grandma, when I eat our supasui, I think of her.
All of my children love to eat supasui. It runs down their chin, onto the table and then the floor. They make loud noises sucking it off their fork. Delight in the rich flavour and alofa that made it. My children get it all down their fronts, the sauce stains their clothes. Pieces of meat scuttle across the table and onto the floor, which our cats eat. Vermicelli noodles hang like tassels on a fine mat from the edges of the tablecloth. Some swim across the floor or fall into cracks of the veranda. We feast on Faʻalifo Taro, Faʻalifo Faʻi, Faʻapapa, Oka Iʻa, and Puaʻa. Ioe this is the food of our Aiga. I will prepare and cook this for my children and grandchildren with alofa for the many generations to come.
Doug Poole is of Samoan (Ulberg Aiga of Tulaʻele, Apia, ʻUpolo) and European descent. He resides in Waitakere City, Auckland. He is the publisher and editor of the poetry e-zine blackmail press www.blackmailpress.com.
Doug produced the performance poetry show POLYNATION, which was presented at Queensland Poetry Festival 2008 in Australia, and Going West Books and Writers Festival 2008 in West Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand. In 2009 Doug co-produced Atarangi Whenua–Shadow Land, a touring exhibition of paintings and poetry, with New Zealand painter Penny Howard.
Doug has been e-published in Trout; Soft Blow; Snorkel; New Zealand Electronic Poetry Centre’s OBAN 06; Fugacity; All Together Now: A Digital Bridge for Auckland and Sydney; and other e-publications. Doug’s poetry has been included in
Niu Voices: Contemporary Pacific Fiction 1 (Huia Publishers, 2006); Landfall 218: Islands (2009); Side Stream 24 (2010); The Contemporary Pacific (22:2, 2010); Mauri Ola: Contemporary Polynesian Poetry in English (University of Hawaiʻi Press, 2010); and IKA Journal of Creative Writing: One (Manukau Institute of Technology, 2013). Doug can be contacted at email@example.com.